Associational leaders were urged on Monday (Nov. 14) to avoid tackling ministry alone.
The Alabama Baptist Conference of Associational Leaders gathered for its annual meeting at Shades Crest Baptist Church in Birmingham. The event featured Bob Bumgarner, lead missional strategist for First Coast Churches (formerly Jacksonville Baptist Association in Florida).
“Know you are chosen, for this role … and for this moment,” said Bumgarner, noting how God chose David, moving him from local to national ministry (Ps. 78:70–72).
Associational leaders are in a place to encourage local pastors and to help keep them from feeling isolated and on their own, Bumgarner stressed.
“I want you to believe ‘local’ matters,” he said. “If there’s ever been a time … when the leverage point is local, I believe it is now.”
Jesus formed a team, a gospel partnership, to send out his core team to spread the gospel, he noted.
“When we partner locally,” he added, “there’s surrender that has to happen.”
Creating trust is key to reaching people at a local level. In 2017, Bumgarner noted, a poll indicated 11% of pastors surveyed had considered quitting the year before. Jump to March 2022 and the number had increased to 42%, he said. More than 80% of pastors don’t feel rewarded in their role.
Bumgarner acknowledged his ministry work can be stressful.
“COVID and I arrived at the exact same day,” said Bumgarner, who started his position in March 2020.
“I feel the weight of the churches,” he said. “You can’t do the Holy Spirit’s work, but you can help [pastors] not pastor alone. Support systems must be local.”
Bumgarner challenged associational leaders to help pastors build a support network. He added that leaders need to have their own network first. He noted the network should include the skillful coach, bold challenger, wise guide, traveling companion, ministry partner, trusted confidant, young leader and next-phase practitioner.
“Is God still as big as when he called you into ministry?” Bumgarner asked, “because He is.”
Representatives from the Birmingham Metro Baptist Association, Alabama Baptist State Board of Missions, Samford University’s Ministry Training Institute and The Alabama Baptist also spoke at the meeting.
In its business meeting, leaders elected officers: president, Stan Albright, director of missions of Coosa River Baptist Association; vice president, Jeff Knight, lead mission strategist of Tuscaloosa County Baptist Association; and secretary/treasurer, Tyler Eiland, director of missions of Chilton Baptist Association.
To view more photos of the 2022 Conference of Associational Leaders, click here.